Filed under: EDIM 514 Internet Tools for Teaching
“Should students have cell phones in school?” is one of the questions we are discussing this week in class. We were asked to go to a site called Helium and make a decision on the topic.
I read this discussion prompt and my initial response was NO. The district that I work in is having soooo many issues from a huge budget gap costing us our security officers, nurses, and other support staff so that children who have medication needs and/or are generally socially or physically disruptive are running rampant. In just the past 2 weeks our local news channel has been running “exclusive” videos shot by students using cell phones capturing bullying and student attacks. 7th and 8th grade students in my current school were reprimanded last year for using cell phone cameras to take pictures of our K-3 boys in the boy’s restroom. These occurrences want me to say no to cell phones being in schools, but I am also well aware that while they are not currently allowed to be in our schools we do not have the staff or parent support to enforce the ban.
Parents want their kids to have cell phones for safety reasons, and I don’t blame them. I grew up without a cell phone, and handled all of my adolescent needs by using landlines, walking myself home from events, or talking face to face with my parents and friends’ parents when I needed help. This is not how our current student population has been raised to communicate. Cell phones are not going away until they evolve into the next version of a communication device. We all use them, young and old. The struggle comes in educating our students (and even many adults) on proper usage. Sure kids can use cell phones to cheat and bully, but kids have been cheating and bullying for years without them. Maybe if we teach kids how cell phones can be used as productive tools, we can also teach them to use them in productive ways socially. I am more than well aware that this will not be the easiest task, especially since I have been cursed out by our middle school population for respectfully asking them to not curse and scream into their phones while walking past my Kindergarteners.
Policies need to be written by our schools that encourage cell phone AND internet safety and etiquette education. As teachers we are aware that many of our students are not being raised in caring homes or even fed there. So why are we surprised when no one at home has taught these kids how to respectfully use a cell phone?
Now that I have ranted too long, I will comment briefly on just a few basic ways that we can use cell phones as tools without our students needing data packages to do web searches, etc. We can use the stopwatch features to time experiments or even practice learning how to read numbers and time. Reminder texts can be sent by teachers and administration for projects due, meeting dates, school events, and emergency dismissal times. The camera feature can be used to capture images for storytelling, sequencing, science experiments, etc.
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